A valuable companion to morning pages
We rush through life: wake up, check the phone, walk the dog, dash to work, grab a coffee, lunch at the desk, trawl through emails, go home, have a quick dinner, watch a bit of telly, then sleep for a few hours until we have to get up and do it all over again. It’s a breathless loop. There’s often little time to think, let alone feel or write. But an evening check-in can offer a few moments of calm and self-reflection at the end of a busy day, with the potential for positive results.
Studies show that expressive writing before going to bed helps people get to sleep more quickly, improves the quality of that sleep, and reduces the likelihood of insomnia. Given that good sleep has innumerable benefits for both our mental and physical health, a daily check-in beforehand could be a good investment.
translating your thoughts into language can aid understanding and provide insight
While morning pages are a stream-of-consciousness brain dump, during which we don’t think about what’s finding its way on to the page, the evening check-in is more considered. It’s not an essay, but you can take time to think about what’s happened, how you’ve felt, and possibly explore why.
Hopefully you’ve had a good day. Maybe you’ve been somewhere or done something special or enjoyable. With the evening check-in, you can revisit that experience. But if you’ve had a frustrating time at work, this is an opportunity to get things off your chest. If you’re worried about something, you can write that down here too.
Maybe it’s been an ordinary day in which nothing particularly memorable happened; that’s okay – most days are like that, after all. The key thing is that translating your thoughts into language can aid your understanding and insight.
if I’m struggling with a project or uncertain about a course of action, the check-in can yield results
I allow about half a side of A5 for the check-in. It doesn’t take long, and if I’m just too tired or been out late, then I don’t worry about missing a night. Ultimately, the check-in is just a few minutes of calm at the end of the day. As with morning pages, writing by hand is best. No one else will read these words, so just think, feel, and write.
If you’re seeking the solution to a problem, asking questions of this writing can even get your mind working on it overnight, and you might find you wake up with a solution. I’ve certainly found that if I’m struggling with a project or uncertain about a course of action, the check-in can yield results.
a few minutes’ expressive writing each evening could feed both your well-being and creativity
One important point: the evening check-in will almost certainly be the last thing you write on any day, and these may be your last thoughts before going to sleep. Given the importance of sleep, and the amount of processing our mind does during this time, it’s a good idea to end on a positive note. This can be something as simple as a few reminders of things you’re grateful for, a few sentences of self-affirmation, or perhaps what you’d like to see happen.
With the potential to improve your sleep, and all the associated benefits, a few minutes’ expressive writing each evening could feed both your well-being and creativity.
I’m a novelist and scriptwriter, Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow and Advisory Fellow, workshop lead and creative coach. Click here to get the lowdown on updates, insight into projects, and a look behind the scenes on creative stuff. You can also follow TFW on Twitter, or like the Facebook page.